Every August bank holiday I head North of the border to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This is my favourite weekend of the year. I went to University in Edinburgh and whilst I was there, I worked at the local radio station in my spare time as part of my media studies degree. The best times I had at the radio station were in August when I fell in love with the Festival. When it came to looking for a job in London after University, I was lucky enough to get a job in comedy PR which involved spending the month of August back at the Edinburgh Festival. I have a different job now but I still go up there every year without fail. This year I took up my best friend Carmen and her lovely boyfriend Matt who hadn’t been before.
We arrived on Saturday and checked into our hotel. As we left the hotel, we saw a couple of restaurants across the road, one of which was David Bann, a very popular vegetarian restaurant. I had been recommended to go there by a few people but I didn’t think I’d have much chance of dragging Carmen there as she really loves her meat. We read the menu in the window and it looked fantastic. We then had a look at the menu of a bistro a few doors along but it wasn’t quite as exciting, so we decided to give David Bann’s a go.
The restaurant itself is simply decorated inside with lots of dark wood. It’s a little uninspiring to be honest, there’s not much character to it, unlike the menu. It was actually quite hard to decide what to order as the menu was so inviting. I decided to have two starters instead of a starter and a main.
I ordered the tartlet of blue cheese and slow dried tomato (£6.15)…
This was a delicate butter shortcrust tartlet filled with crème fraîche, Dunsyre Blue cheese and slow dried tomato with garlic and basil and served with rocket salad with red pesto and reduced balsamic dressing. It was beautiful. The pastry practically melted in your mouth and the filling was so light it was almost like a soufflé. The Dunsyre Blue cheese had a lovely punch to it and the crème fraîche kept it really light. I could have eaten two of them…maybe even three!
My other starter was smoked mushroom and basil ravioli with tomato and basil soup (£6.15)…
I really enjoyed this. The homemade pasta was incredibly light and the filling of home smoked mushroom and Lyburn Farm cheese with paprika was delicate yet flavoursome. The soup was also really tasty but I didn’t think it was necessary. A drizzle of it would have sufficed around the pasta but this almost tasted like two separate dishes that had been served together. Less soup would have been better.
Matt ordered the salad of beetroot, thinly sliced fennel, sorrel and Golden Cross goats cheese, with a raspberry and maple, lemon and mustard dressing (£7.65)…
He enjoyed it but said he could have done with a bit more of the goats cheese. We also ordered a portion of rosemary chips.
Then came the desserts. Carmen doesn’t usually go for dessert as she doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but the dessert menu made your mouth water just looking at it. We each decided to get a different dessert so we could try as many as possible.
I went for the hot peach and raspberry tart, made to order with a delicate sweet shortcrust pastry (£5.60)…
This is normally served with homemade chocolate ice cream but I asked to have it with cream instead as I’m not a huge fan of chocolate ice cream. All I could say was “WOW!” This is one of the best desserts I have eaten in a very long time. The warm buttery pastry crumbled and melted in your mouth, the hot peach and raspberry added sweetness and a hint of tartness…I actually begrudged offering it to my friends to taste it. Especially when Carmen tried it, shrugged and said “its ok”. *evil glare from me* I could have eaten three of these, if not more! And I would go back to David Bann just for this dessert. I really loved it.
My friend Maggie ordered the vanilla and whisky pannacotta topped with meringue and strawberries in orange caramel (£5.60)…
The pannacotta was creamy and smooth and the mini meringues on the top added some good texture. I tried it but I actually can’t stand the taste of whiskey so it did nothing for me, however, if you like whiskey I’m sure this would have been delicious.
Matt ordered homemade ginger and lime ice cream served in a chocolate ganache bowl on top of an orange drizzle cake (£5.60)…
I didn’t taste this as I could tell Matt was enjoying it too much but in his words, this was “Incredible!”. In fact, Matt was still talking about it the next day.
Carmen opted for the lemon and raspberry posset. Cream and fresh lemon dessert topped with fresh raspberry sauce and served with a homemade chocolate filled with strawberry and white chocolate (£5.60)…
This, I did try, and it was wonderful. The cream and lemon was incredibly fresh and light and the raspberry sauce added sweetness to it. It is a lovely dessert to have if you’re quite full from the rest of your meal as it was as light as air. The homemade chocolate was amazing. Carmen isn’t much of a chocolate fan so she shared that out. I could have eaten a box of them!
Overall, David Bann was a very pleasant surprise. I am always on the lookout for good vegetarian restaurants, not because I’m vegetarian, but I’m eating less meat these days and I tend to get more excited about vegetarian options. I think vegetarian restaurants nowadays are a lot more adventurous than they used to be. I would absolutely come back here. The highlights for me were the blue cheese and slow dried tomato tartlet and the hot peach and raspberry pudding. Oh yes, and Carmen’s homemade chocolate. I would like to try out more of the menu but I have a feeling if I went back I’d end up ordering what I had on Saturday. I don’t think this is necessarily a restaurant for vegetarians, this is a restaurant for anyone who appreciates exciting, good, fresh, seasonal food. The food is so full of flavour that meat eaters could even forget they’re eating vegetarian.
David Bann, 56-58 St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SX
(Off the Royal Mile and the Cowgate)
Tel: 0131 556 5888